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J Insect Physiol. 2005 Jun;51(6):609-19.

How similar are daily and seasonal biological clocks?

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  • 1Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods), Canadian Museum of Nature, P.O. Box 3443, Station "D", Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1P 6P4.


Daily and seasonal timing systems in insects have usually been supposed to share similar mechanisms, because both rely in large measure on information from the daily light-dark cycle: daily clocks can ensure that activity coincides with the appropriate time of day, and seasonal time is indicated most reliably by daylength. However, several lines of evidence suggest that the systems are different. For example, receptor features, photosensitive pigments, clocks, and the effectors that mediate responses to information derived from the clock may have different daily, seasonal and general functions and properties, and several different systems are known. There are many different additional elements in the seasonal response. Therefore, these responses may not rely on similar timing mechanisms, despite the long-standing belief that the seasonal clock has circadian components. Such a difference would be consistent with the fact that temporal responses serve a very wide range of purposes, meeting many different ecological needs on different time frames. Consequently, understanding the seasonal relevance of the photoperiodic responses is more important than revealing any possible involvement with circadian systems.

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